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What is an “Application Layer 7” DDoS Attack?

What is Application Layer 7 DDoS attack! The first thing come to mind is … a set of distributed denial of service attacks in layers of seven or what? or The attack effecting each of the seven layers? Not Realy.

The Application Layer 7 DDoS attacks target organizational networks’ application layer 7, not 7 layers.

Let’s move forward by learning what an application layer is.

The parts of a networking framework are connected via the Open System Interconnection Model. Call it OSI, for short. Data (bits of information that machines and we human send back and forth) is transported up and down and back and forth between users of devices and a physical server. Examples are an instant message, an email, a video, a music or other audio file, or a fax. Inside each piece of data (in the background) are those geeky things such as integers, booleans, characters, floating-point numbers, alphanumeric strings and so on.

The OSI Model has seven application layers. Each layer has a special job and purpose just like members of a business or technical team. There are seven layers in total, each fulfilling its own purpose in the connected networking framework called the Open System Interconnection Model.

The Seven Layers of OSI in which data is transmitted and received:

  • Application layer 7, user interface
  • Presentation layer 6, data formatting
  • Session layer 5, establish and maintain connection
  • Transport layer 4, accurate data
  • Network layer 3, IP – routers
  • data link layer 2, MAC and routers
  • physical layer 1, signals and cables

(There is a physical link between transmission and reception of data via the seven layers.)

Layer 7 is the application layer. It is where data starts and returns. Every step you (the reader) and I (the writer) take on the Internet involves this “back and forth” in the background. DDoS attacks mostly layers 3 and 4 (network and transport). The zombie machines that make up the botnets needed for DDoS count on high numbers of attacks at one time that move malicious TCP / UDP traffic to overwhelm a website or even the complete victim network. These attacks are more quickly mitigated (weakened and eventually stopped then layer 7).

On the other hand, a layer 7 DDoS attack can be very difficult and expensive to mitigate and defend against, especially when organizations buy their own equipment and software and employ their own IT security personnel. The cost to be prepared for and to execute responses to attacks is much less when using a DDoS defence provider that holds respect in IT industry and among its clients.

Look for organizations that have DDoS protection references and who tell the truth. Not all mitigation projects are seamlessly successful from beginning to end, but like everything in life, those who admit such and evaluate to improve are more likely to be successful. Case studies, Wikipedia pages and white papers of respected companies will share the good, bad and ugly and how the last two are handled. Check to see if a potential DDoS protection service provider company has a Wikipedia profile (which is not easy to achieve) and is mentioned and linked to from respected online magazines, newspapers, blogs, podcasts, and video platforms. The global BlockDoS team is ready to assist organizations against layer 3, 4 and 7 DDoS attacks. Call or write us to make cyber vandals work useless!

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